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Thousands at Risk of HIV After Rogue Denver Dentist Reused IV Syringes for 12 Years

Thousands of people in Colorado may have been infected with HIV or hepatitis  after a local dentist was discovered to have been reusing dirty sedation  syringes and needles to some of his 8,000 patients for 12 years.

Colorado state health officials are warning patients of Dr. Stephen Stein to  get tested immediately after an investigation revealed that the dentist used the  same syringes and needles for multiple patients to administer intravenous  medications, including sedation medication between September 1999 and June  2011.

"Needles and syringes were used repeatedly, often days at a time," a fact  sheet on the state's public health website explains.

"Because there can be a small amount of blood that remains in syringes and  needles after an injection through an IV line, there is a risk of spread of  blood borne viruses, such as HIV, hepatitis B, and hepatitis C, between  patients," according to the fact  sheet.

Stein had been working out of Stein Oral and Facial Surgery at South Quebec  Street, Highlands Ranch for more than 20 years, and between August 2010 and June  2011, he also practiced at another surgery known as New Image Dental Implant  Center, located at East 1st Avenue, Denver.

Authorities say that another surgeon Dr. Jeremy Miner, has taken over the  Highlands Ranch office.

The state is contacting at least 8,000 patients, identified through dental  records, to advise them to get tested for HIV, Hepatitis B and Hepatitis C.  Officials are also appealing to the public and asking those who know at-risk  patients to reach those the state has no addresses for.

Patients who were given local, oral anesthetic shots are not believed to be  at risk of any of these potentially deadly viruses, and no infections have yet  been reported.

Hollynd Hoskins, a Denver attorney who represented victims who had been  infected with Hepatitis C at Rose Medical Center in 2009, said that Stein's  alleged practice of reusing syringes and needles on his patients was  "mind-blowing and indicates an utter disregard of the known consequences of  spreading life-threatening diseases," according to the Denver Post.

Colorado public health director Dr. Chris Urbina told the paper that because  the latest case is "very unusual" officials are taking it even more  seriously.

The state recommended that patients who don't know whether they received IV  medication should also get tested as well as people who were treated by Stein  before 1999 because the state doesn't known whether syringes were being reused  back then.

Only patients who are sure they did not get any IV do not need to go get  checked.

The Dental Examiners' Board had forced Stein to stop practicing on June 24,  2011, but the ruling was unrelated to the current allegations.

The Colorado Department of Regulatory Agencies overseeing medical licenses in  the state did not disclose the nature of the complaint that prompted its  investigation which brought Stein's reuse of dirty syringes to light.

"When public safety became an issue, we immediately jumped on it,: spokesman  Maulid Miskell told the Colorado newspaper.

Source: Medical Daily at  http://www.medicaldaily.com/articles/10848/20120713/hiv-dentist-colorado-iv-needles-syringes-stephen-stein-hepatitis.htm#MLTiSAfj1WpZPXai.99

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